By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Which Yoga students do I want to teach? This seems like a discriminatory question, but in terms of student safety, not all Yoga students are the same. Some students bring years of experience to the classroom, while others have just signed up for their very first class. Some are athletes hoping to become as flexible as a rubber band, and others are stressed-out parents looking to blow off some steam. As a Yoga instructor, you need to be aware of all the different types of students you’ll encounter while teaching classes. A full understanding will allow you to prepare for a variety of students. It will also help you build a schedule that focuses primarily on the practitioners you’re most qualified and interested in teaching.
This is the first group that comes to mind. Some students come to class with diversified medical issues. Pregnant students are advised to attend prenatal Yoga classes, but what about all the other conditions. Firstly, this is why studios have applications and student meetings with teachers before students attend classes. For example: A student with high blood pressure might be advised to consult with his or her physician before participating in class. By the way, a student with high blood pressure might also want to reconsider the Hot Yoga class. As teachers, we might want to explain the combination of heat and medication might lower potassium levels. The point is teachers have to know the risks and advise students accordingly. In some cases, a student would be so much better off in a Restorative class. Our students depend on us to give them guidance. In some cases, it may be something like, “please discuss this with your doctor.”
Different Levels Of Experience
Experience level is the main factor of difference between Yoga students. A total beginner and a ten-year Yoga student will bring completely different needs and expectations to a class. You should be aware of what teaching different levels could entail. Teachers are on the journey from beginner teacher to advanced teacher. As teachers, we are obligated to teach with compassion, patience, and grace. Most of all we want to keep every student safe. Student safety is the overriding factor in every class we teach.
Beginners are true blank slates, arriving at their first class with nothing but their expectations. They’re often nervous, and they’ll need lots of attention right from the start. Teaching beginners is a lot of work, requiring constant instruction, attention to detail, and regular encouragement. With patience, however, it’s also extremely rewarding. A good teacher can help beginners foster a love for Yoga that will change their lives for the better.
Once beginners have learned the basics, they graduate to the intermediate category. These students have the general concepts down, but they still need regular correction to keep their path, form, and technique moving forward. They’ll also be able to move on to complicated concepts and techniques. Many instructors find joy in helping students along during this important part of their Yoga journey.
Advanced students have practiced Yoga for years. They bring confidence and competence to each and every class. They know a lot already, but they’re still eager to face further challenges. While teaching an advanced class might seem easy, some instructors find it difficult to raise standards for students who already know so much. Teaching advanced practitioners is all about helping them refine their techniques so they can reach an even higher level.
To each of us, an objective or goal is of different value. To some people a life goal might be expensive jewelry on the hand and arm. In Yoga, some may want to stand on their heads, while others want to attain enlightenment. Every student comes to a Yoga class with their own mix of priorities, goals and motivations. While most students have more than one goal in mind, they can still be divided or sub-divided according to inherent priorities that cause motivation. Goal-oriented students will participate in your classes. The key is to understand what motivates people is to listen. Whether you agree about the importance of a student’s specific goal, or not, goals are often a prime motivator in participation. To be clear, the goals among Ashtanga students will often differ with the goals among students in a Restorative Yoga class. Any facility that has Yoga classes provides different styles to give like-minded students a haven.
Seeking Physical Benefits
Some Yoga students are principally concerned with the physical benefits of the practice. They feel their bodies are tight or inflexible, and they see Yoga as a potential solution to their problem. A good teacher should respect these students’ main objectives while simultaneously encouraging them to reap the holistic benefits of Yoga as well.
Seeking Stress Relief
These days, it seems everybody is desperate for a way to relax. Modern life is hectic, and lots of folks have a hard time finding peace among the chaos. Yoga class offers people a place to unwind in a calm, communal setting. Depending on present circumstances, work atmosphere, family situations, relationships, and personal history, Yoga classes may also function like a sanctuary from all the stress triggers in daily life. Yoga classes are an important part of a coping strategy for emotional health.
Seeking Spiritual Awakening
Spirituality is becoming more diverse and individual than ever before. Religious social institutions that meet in churches, shrines, mosques, temples, and synagogues are the standard for many people who are looking for spiritual guidance. Some students participate in Yoga because they recognize the practice’s spiritual potential. In a many Hatha Yoga classes, the practitioners have different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Some students have no religious background, but all students pick up the ethical standards of courtesy and the right to peaceful coexist with each other. Unless, a class is labeled as Yoga for a specific religion, it should be free of religious guidance. Which Yoga students do I want to teach? Very few Yoga teachers want to provide religious instruction.
Some students see Yoga as just another challenge in a laundry list of physical and mental self-improvement exercises. These folks are probably coming to class after an afternoon of learning a foreign language, practicing the cello, and teaching themselves to knit. They’re sure to crave quick results, and they’ll gain an increased sense of self-worth from improving their practice.
Preparing For All Types
As an instructor, your job is to give all these students what they’re looking for. While it’s not always easy to meet such diverse needs and expectations, you can do your best by developing a sound plan and staying flexible in your thinking. Additionally, there will be times, when the best decision is to point a student in the direction of a teacher-specialist. We can’t all be qualified to teach every subject.
Classes For Different Levels
While a mixed-level class is feasible when your resources and time won’t allow for anything more, you’re much better off having separate classes for different levels. If you have beginner and advanced students at the same time, you’ll have to do a lot of individual teaching to make sure everyone’s needs are met. With separate classes, you can curtail your general instruction to the entire body of students at once. Your students are also likely to feel more comfortable if they’re surrounded by others who are at a similar level of knowledge. Nothing intimidates a true beginner like finding themselves in a class with experts. Which Yoga students do I want to teach? Mixed-level classes are great for advanced teachers, but may be frustrating for new teachers.
Helping All of Them Achieve Their Goals
While dividing classes by level is relatively straightforward, it’s much harder to separate students by their goals. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility as a Yoga instructor to serve students with different goals simultaneously in a single classroom. This requires a bit of effort. A good teacher will talk to their students to identify their primary objectives. From there, the teacher can personalize instruction to each student. If, for example, you know a student is trying to become more flexible for their upcoming soccer season, you can target them with praise and corrections that correspond to the physical aspects of Yoga. Someone who is more concerned with relaxation, on the other hand, should receive extra pointers about breathing and tension reduction.
Creating The Right Teaching Schedule For You
Ultimately, you’ll have to devise a teaching schedule that matches your own strengths as an instructor. Even the best teachers are better at helping some types of students than others. Now that you know what types of students to expect, you can decide how to arrange your own teaching schedule. Now consider: Which Yoga students do I want to teach? Aim to be as flexible as possible, but don’t hesitate to prioritize developing classes for the types of students you actually teach and want to teach. Teachers need motivation too.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
Subscribe to Our Newsletter for Special Discounts and New Products
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz.
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman.
YOGA: THE PATH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH
by B.K.S. Iyengar
TEACHING YOGA: Essential Foundations and Techniques
By Mark Stephens
2 thoughts on “Which Yoga Students Do I Want to Teach?”